Nik's Commodore Keys – Wake Forest

After a disheartening loss to Tennessee, in which Vanderbilt (6-5, 4-4 SEC) only put up 10 points and had horrible quarterback play, Vanderbilt goes on the road for the final regular season game of the year, trying to improve their bowl status and insure the first winning season in 26 years.

The Commodores will have to be much better than last week in order to beat a Wake Forest (6-5, 4-4 ACC) team that is having a decent, but not great year.

Down Lose the Game

The biggest key for Vanderbilt this week is to do what they have done to win games…they cannot shoot themselves in the foot.  They cannot turn the ball over, which means that whoever the quarterback is, be it Mackenzie Adams or Chris Nickson, cannot throw interceptions.  Vanderbilt must not kill themselves on special teams.  Punter Brett Upson has been great this year, and Bryant Hahnfeldt has had his ups and downs.  The Commodores must not make mistakes.  If they do not make mistakes, Wake Forest is a very beatable team.  Last week, the Dores fumbled the ball away and blew what seemed like every chance they had to win the game.  Wake Forest is better than Tennessee, and Vanderbilt must play very well in order to win.  No turnovers, No blocked kicks or punts, no giving up long kickoff returns.  The defense is good, and just needs to keep Wake's strong passing attack in check.  Unlike previous games against powers such as Florida and Georgia, Vanderbilt cannot worry so much about what Wake Forest is going to do as much as they need to worry about playing as much mistake free ball as they can.  Vanderbilt will not win this game if they shoot themselves in the foot like they have done against Mississippi State, Duke, Tennessee, and even Kentucky.

Quarterback

Vanderbilt needs an answer at the quarterback position now.  They have had all of last year and this year to figure it out; it is time for the starter to step up.  If this team does not have confidence in the quarterback early, the entire offense will suffer.  Whoever starts this game at quarterback for Vanderbilt must be solid.  Vanderbilt needs offense from the quarterback position with tailback Jared Hawkins gone.  Either Adams or Nickson needs to make plays on the air and on the ground, and cannot turn the football over.  The defense will do its job, the offense must do theirs.  This will not happen unless the quarterback starts to look good early.

Jeff Jennings

It has been a long tough road for senior tailback Jeff Jennings.  After blowing his knee against Wake Forest in 2005, he came back in 2007, only to be ineffective in 2008.  Jennings needs to step it up this week.  Starting tailback Jared Hawkins is out, and Jennings will be playing in his last regular season game this year.  He needs to have a solid outing to help this team to a victory.  Jennings is a solid power runner, and very good at catching the ball.  Come on Jeff, the Vanderbilt Nation is counting on you this week.  We know you can do it!

History

Last Meeting: Wake Forest 31 Vanderbilt 17 (2007 in Nashville)

Last Meeting in Winston-Salem: Vanderbilt 24 Wake Forest 20 (2005)

First Meeting: Vanderbilt 9 Wake Forest 6 (1965)

Vanderbilt leads overall series 7-4 (4-1 in Winston-Salem).  Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson is 1-1 against Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe.


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